Sail Material

I need some info on what I should use for sail material, for one of Brett’s single sail rigs. I don’t know what Mylar is or where to get it. I have read “florists wrap”, but I went to the florist and all they had was bright mirror finish stuff, nothing clear. “clear is out” according to them. Plus they would only sell me a whole roll for $40.+

I need to know what you all use and where the heck you get it and maybe what (exactly) it’s called, so I can get some…



I’m sure several people will jump in to try and help - meanwhile here are my thoughts.

Mylar is DUponts trade name for polyester film. Its used for a lot of things including drafting film (much too thick for us), florists wrapping (but you have tried that) space blankets (outdoor survival blankets usually with silver or gold film on the surface) etc.

Plastic films which make good Macrig sails are:
thin Mylar - space blankets would be pretty distinctive:D
thin polythene (polyethylene) in Europe this is used for sandwich bags, free carrier bags in stores, dry-cleaning wrapping bags (pretty much all free)
The lightest kite material (around or below 1 oz/sq yard) which is often brightly colored, has reinforcing strands in it and seems to be made of polyurethane, nylon or polyester

I am using a biodegradable refuse sacks which are pale green, and just the right weight and strength.

If it would help I could post you samples of most of these to try. They are all cut with a soldering iron, and any joints made with double sided tape.

I would suggest making a few sails using cheaply available materials before even thinking about kite material.

I have a photo-session of macrig sailmaking using template, soldering iron and free polythene bag - I can make this avaialble to you if it would enhance your confidence:D


Are y’all talking about Wal-Mart bags? Got to be the same as shopping bags… Really? I would never have thought about something that thin. I don’t know here, I’m just going by the photos aroung here and the sails I see on the site here, don’t look like shopping bags. The sail shown on the famous post
didn’t look like any shopping bag… Just asking here. I will try 'em but, how on earth do you geth them so smooth? Those shopping bags are wrinkled and don’t hold a shape at all… Am I missing something here?

If you have some photos, yes that would be great. I just can’t visualize it yet…

I used a piece of plastic (polyethylene) from a “gaylord” liner. “Gaylord bags” got to be several mil and it holds it’s shape very well, but the rig weighs in at 28g, so I know it’s too heavy…


I bought PC31 at a kite store. It is white w/a 1/2" check pattern.

All weights of the kite building materials and parts on this page are weighed and all dimensions are measured.

Normally the weight of the kite cloth Icarex PC31 is declared as 31g/sqm, that’s because of the measurement methods and used units of the textile industry, where e.g. the sailmaker ounce is used commonly. such specifications are related often to the gross weight of the fabric, that is before the coating process. Icarex is a sail cloth coated with polycarbonate on both sides, resulting in a measured weight per unit area of around 36g/sqm.

Find an old bicycle spoke for Z-wire. File down one end to fit into 3mm carbon mast tube.

Use 1/4" double sided seam tape to make luff pocket for mast. Mine came from “Midwest”, but talk to someone local that has made a sail. It only requires about 2 feet per sail. Kite shop may have some.

Transparent sails are very difficult to see while you are sailing. You need to see the shape of the sail at a distance, so you can trim and steer properly. Similarly, telltales and draft stripes need to be at least 1/4" wide for visibility.

1/2 oz rip-stop polyester is probably the best material to use. But don’t get a dark color, it is hard to see against the water.

It is available at Hang-em-high and other kite shops.

Liquor stores have gift bags of colored or silvered thin plastic film, which make very good telltales, and may be good to play with making sails.

The three latest pictures I have posted on Yahoo’s footy/USA site (and in fact most of the ones in “Huntington Footys” under “Photos” there) were made from TriSpi 25 from Hang-em-high and were stuck together with their seamstick tape. It is quite unforgiving, but makes strong, light. stable sails.


Use a shopping bag with the store logo on it. Send them a picture of it and they might send you a couple of store coupons:lol::lol:

Nobody in UK has actually managed to get sponsored by a supermarket but …

The UK National Championship got (I think) a clear 1-2-3 for shopping bag sails. Euro Footy 2008 was won by shopping bags with some beautiful sails from Scatt Stacey second. I’m not saying which is ultimately better, but plythene sails made from carrier bags are certaibly competitive. What is becoming more apprarent as time passes is that, with a little shopping around (lierally) they offer a huge range of weights and elasticity of the material which would be difficult to find otherwise.


I guess I need a Yahoo ID and go look for the group… And go look for TriSpi 25.


Thanks everyone for the responses…:slight_smile:

I see various things I can try. I will look around the online kite shops and I will look in some of the stores. I do know that stores like JC Penney used to have “nicer bags” and heavier. I noticed they seemed to be about right, from memory (that was a while ago), but I will look there… The hobby shop is an airplane shop, but they have rolls and rolls of the plastic wrap for the wings and fuselages of planes. It looks great, but it’s made to heat and shrink. I don’t think just the sun would heat it enough because florist wrap also is heat shrink, but… I might try a piece of that…

So now let me ask… Why so light? What is the benefit of the lightest sail possible? I mean it seems like the difference of a few grams is a big deal and I just wanted to understand why…


Hey here’s a source for just about any film one would want:
3M Light-Reflective Film
3M Scotchcal Film
ABS Film
Acetal Copolymer Film
Acetal Film
Acetal Homopolymer Film
Acetate Film
Adhesive-Backed Film
Aluminized Film
Aramid Film
Brake Film
Buna-N Rubber Film
Cellulose Film
Ceramic Film
Construction Film
Construction Film Zippers
Corrosion-Inhibiting Film
Delrin Film
Diamond Lapping Film
Die Film
Elastic Film
Electrical Insulating Film
FEP Film
Fiber Film
Fiberglass Film
Film (Made with Teflon® PTFE)
Fishpaper Film
Fluoropolymer Film
Food Service Film
Garolite Film
Glass Film
Grade G-10 Garolite Film
Grade G-10/FR4 Garolite Film
Heat-Shrink Film
Hytrel Film
Laminate Film
Lapping Film
Latex Rubber Film
Light-Reflective Film
Magnetic Viewing Film
Masking Film
Metallized Film
Mica Film
Natural Rubber Film
Neoprene Rubber Film
Nitrile Rubber Film
Nonstick Film
Nylon Film
Overhead Projector Film
Overhead Transparency Film
Paint Masking Film
Pallet Wrapping Film
Pallet Wrapping Shrink Film
PFA Film
Phenolic Film
Phlogopite Mica Film
Plastic Film
Poly Film
Polycarbonate Film
Polyester (PET) Film
Polyethylene Film
Polyimide (Cirlex) Film
Polyimide (Imidex) Film
Polyimide (Kapton) Film
Polyolefin Film
Polypropylene Film
Polyurethane Film
Pressure-Indicating Film
Pressure-Sensitive Film
Protective Overlay Film
PVC Film
PVDF (Kynar) Film
Release Film
Rubber Film
Rulon Film
Safety Glass Film
Safety Window Film
Scotchcal Film
Silicone Rubber Film
Skived Film
Static Control Plastic Film
Stretch Wrap Film
TPX Film
Transparency Film
UHMW Polyethylene Film
Ultem Film
VCI (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor) Film
Visqueen Film
Window Film

[b][/b] Search “film”

The film headquarters… WooHoo!!

Sorry, got carried away…:smiley:

There is a place in Richmond, Va. called “Hang Em High”, a kite store, that shows Trispi listed under the “Film” header on their website, and they have various fabrics listed under the “Fabric” header. I have used their 1/2 oz. polyester backed ripstop dacron which is very light, durable, and comes in many colors, including white. This material is not really opaque, but rather translucent, due to it’s thinness. It’s sold by the yard and comes in 50" width, with a few colors still available in 40" width also. It’s about $12-$13 per running yard (in 50" size), and one yard is plenty to do several suits of Footy sails. They will only ship it rolled up, and in a very heavy cardboard tube, so you may want to buy a few yards or several colors to amortize the shipping, which will be a bit high due to the weight of the shipping tube. Also, if you need any long carbon fibre tubes for mast stock, they have many diameters from 1/8" up, in 48" lengths for about $5-$6 each. The cardboard shipping tubes are about 3" in diameter so one tube will hold a life-time supply of carbon masts and sail materials if you desire to order all at once. They also sell sailmaker’s seaming tape in a couple of types (cold press & heat activated), but the rolls are too big to fit in the shipping tubes, so will require a separate box & extra shipping.

Hope this helps,
Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL USA

Maybe its just my Scottish upbringing (I’m not mean you understand, just careful) but I would still suggest learning the trade of Footy-sailmaker (Macrig branch) on a readily available material.

And as Angus has suggested they are good enough to win large events:D

We have the usual transatlantic translation issue here, too. We don’t know what types of poly bags are available, so it is little use srongly advocating the “Argos” bag if it isn’t available outside the UK.

Smoothness may well be over-emphasised at our speeds, but probably makes us feel better. I have been known to run an iron over my bags (protected by release paper) to get the worst of the creases out.


Hi Andrew,

Most of the shopping bags I have seen here in South Florida are small, creased, and of very cheap quality that is so easily split out, the checkout personnel frequently double bag your goods (where’s the economy in that?). Also, they have so much advertising on them that I would be hesitant to use them, for fear that others would be convinced that building and sailing Footys was akin to “dumpster-diving”. Using them as practice for the cutting and taping process before trying your technique on the kite material is not a bad idea, I suppose, but at the price of the material, a suit of sails is only about a dollar in material cost. Of course, if the economy continues it’s present path, we may all end up sailing bottle hulls with garbage bag sails, using vane control made with paperclips and rubber bands! 8^)


(Danish, Dutch, French, Irish) Mutt, I’m naturally mean:D

Yes the difference across the pond does limit some meanings. As I say, I will try a bag from a “good store” they usually carry nicer bags. I really do like the “Gaylord bag” material. It’s heavier (probably like 3 mil) but it really is supple and it’s translucent, not transparent. I believe it’s polyethylene film. It was free…

I don’t plan to buy any expensive material till I have done quite a few sails, so not in the near future, but someday…

If you look at a photograph of a fleet of UK Footys, almost all the colorured sails are the result of ‘on bag advertising’. Nobody carees and only a sall and shrinking number use kite material.

Justin - lighweight material is essential for light weather sails - thy must fill in the merest zephyr. In my view the best stuff is the clear, slightly greyish stuff that is used here for ‘weigh it yourself’ fruit and vegetables. Steal some off the end of the roll in the supermarket. this rduces the risk of creases. :zbeer::zbeer::graduate::graduate: